According to an article in the Star-Telegram, the number of Americans filing bankruptcy is increasing as the economy continues to sour; but many more who should file continue to delay.
The article said:
Nearly 1.2 million debtors filed for bankruptcy in the past 12 months, according to federal court records collected and analyzed by the AP. Last month, 130,831 sought bankruptcy protection - an increase of 46 percent over March 2008 and 81 percent over the same month in 2007.
In 2005 bankruptcy legislation was passed that made it more cumbersome for individuals to filing bankruptcy; but the number of bankruptcy filings continue rise. The major difference between now and pre-2005 bankruptcy legislation is that more Americans who are struggling with bills, debts, job losses and medical expenses are delaying a necessary bankruptcy filling. Unfortunately, our culture still frowns upon reaching out for help when you most need it and that's what bankruptcy is...help. Delaying a necessary bankruptcy filing will only worsen the financial pain and suffering experienced by those who have no hope of repaying their debts.
The Star-Telegram article illustrates this point perfectly with the story of a couple struggling after experiencing a sharp decrease in business cash flow:
Kathy Stevens opened a tea and coffee boutique in August 2007, and it grew steadily. Then enrollment started to fall at a nearby mom-and-tot gym her customers frequented, and her business took a hit. The gym finally closed in the fall. Stevens and her husband spent more than $35,000 to keep the boutique afloat, drawing on their own money and donations from family. After working from 6 a.m. until almost 10 p.m., seven days a week for months on end, Stevens realized her store would not survive. The couple filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago.
"You feel bad, because you never set out to do this," Stevens said. "We're trying to put it behind us and lick our wounds and move on."
Of course she feels bad, no one sets out to file bankruptcy; but financial setbacks are inevitable. If you find yourself facing circumstances such as those faced by the Stevens family don't torture yourself by trying to fix a financial situation that cannot be salvaged. Take an assessment of your financial situation early and speak with a bankruptcy attorney or financial counselor to find out if bankruptcy is the right option for you.